10 DAYS, 10 COVERS, 10 HOURS, 10 YEARS

Write the word “ten” too many times quickly and it starts to lose meaning, obviously, but really, what were the Sumerians thinking? We have ten fingers! Where did base sixty come from? I could maybe understand base twenty given the toes, but if you want the common folk to know what you’re getting at, I think base ten is the way to go.
Been two years since TPC’s “ambitious and riotous project” to “cover” ten songs, one from each year from 2001-2011, one per day, nothing to do with hours at fucking all, and I just noticed now. And that’s a song, because a few of these are pretty excellent. Here’s the “essence, or gist”: TPC, as I’ve surely said a godzillaon times, are a bunch of four white kids from a suburb of Toronto that are younger than I. They play rock as indie as is allowed on MTV, and they look like they belong there as well. In other words, they’re at least what your parents think cool is if your parents aren’t complete idiots but still haven’t heard of Adventure Time.
So! Everything becomes an urbanized, rock’n’roll, Jagger-haired white-guy-with-bangs song. And that’s usually a good thing! That’s what I was for more of my twenties, and if you can get past the fact that they didn’t write any of these songs, to my ears (yes, I know I just switched personal pronouns) most songs just sound better when they’re made by guys who look like me. Most, not all. And I do love guitars more than keyboards, so there’s that, as well.
There’s only ten songs (surprise!), so they’re easy to disseminate individually: A few are songs by lame-o’s. Of these, Moby’s “Southside” has always been a good song, somewhat ruined by terrible lyrics and Moby’s love of animals, the second problem gets all solved up here. Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness has always annoyed the hell out of me, and isn’t much changed here.
Then there’s the songs by people I’ve never heard of: “Under Control” is a good reggae song but still a reggae song, and The Harlem Shakes’ “Strictly Game” is fucking brilliant, taking a song I’d never normally listening to (the original is based on about a 1/4 second keyboard loop over and over and buried vocals) and turning it into one I’ll listen to often and start singing loudly in foreign cities. Pretty much the highest function of the cover song.
Then there’s the songs originally sung by chicks, and to their credit I’ve always thought “Since U Been Gone” and “Party In The USA” were good songs, though the first is unnecessary and the latter is a bit spoiled by three minutes of jamming and naming cities (though it’s WAY better without being fifteen year old grilled all over).
Then there’s the songs that didn’t really need the help – “Kim And Jessie” and “Little Sister” and “All My Friends” were all better over there, when they were done by enjoyable artists and aren’t switched around much except that LCD Soundsystem, QOTSA, and M83 didn’t need to be turned into 20-something white guys. But the rest – whee!
And isn’t that “Strictly Game” song a mint? “Make a little money / Take a lot of shit / Feel real bad then get over it / This’ll be a better year” might as well be the anthem for my little heart right now.
You know what’s wrong with Toronto? There’s a lot of great pubs, and a lot of fancy nightclubs, but not enough in-between. And the beer’s too expensive. And we shouldn’t discount the importance of our little hearts, though at the same time we should remember that our logic is more important. At least, for me, my logic HAS to be more important, because my feelings are fucking assholes. Always telling me I should do horrible things to myself and tell all my friends to go to hell forever. How much trust should I really put into something that changes immediately after I have an orgasm? Not much trust, I’m thinking. And I’ve seriously dated too many girls (4) to think that anyone else’s feelings are worth viewing as anything other than a force of nature, like mine. They’re winds, rainstorms, and earthquakes. I sometimes choose to live on faultlines, but let’s not kid ourselves, they might destroy something horrible, but they’re just as likely to destroy something important.
Ah, fuck it, ride the trains, everything’s okay, tenderize yourself as needed. America I’m afraid of the Wobblies. But trust me about leaving Miley Cyrus alone.

7 / 10

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Tokyo Police Club – Champ

Well, not every album is some sort of important cultural touchstone or harbinger of my past romantic attachments. This one is just kinda (and I stress kinda) a disappointment. Let me count the ways:

1. Nothing sticks. There’s nothing special. No great hooks, no memorable melodies, nothing to think about. It’s again very short (about 32 minutes). Look, the first two EPs were great, filled with a new sound, a gleefully youthful imaginationing of something sci-fi that was hard to pinpoint but delightful nonetheless. Then the LP came out and it was a bunch of singles amongst a bunch of filler (not that it was intentional filler, but still, the successful songs were even produced differently – someone knew what was a-gwon). Now we have this second LP, and the singles are gone. Imagine the last album with no “Tesselate” or “Juno” or “In A Cave” or even “Nursery, Academy.” “Centennial” sounds pretty good now, doesn’t it?

The two-minute intro to the first song, a slow, amusing something is the best thing here, and of course it jumps into their usual spacey, Television-y guitar whirlings before long. At least it’s their longest song ever, at not quite four minutes! There’s only one really memorable vocal hook, and it’s on the otherwise forgettable “Wait Up (Boots Of Danger),” no doubt slated for singledom. Two songs have a atypical guitar tones (imore alt-rock than usual), but one is otherwise forgettable and the other is “kinda Tom Petty. eh.” Whee! My notes are filled with comments like “pleasant, but same problems” or “not bad, kinda neat starts and stops” or “the softer one – vocal hooks but minor ones.” Those are actually some of the more expressive of my notes, too! Three of the eleven songs on here I thought of literally nothing to say other that “?” Song started and ended at some point, isn’t that exciting and now something else is playing. Oh, and all the lyrics are decent sounding vagueness that aren’t exciting enough to parse. Something about somewhat young people and somesuch.

I mean, only one song actively bothers me, and that’s “Not Sick,” because it makes up the word “unfrustrated” without justifying why they’d do that, and it sounds like it desperately wants to be on MTV – and these guys ARE on MTV, but I wonder how long they’ll stay there. MTV is fickle, and I don’t resent it for that – it’s the way it has to be for business. But that means that throwing in your lot in staying there is necessarily a losing bet sooner rather than later. There can never be a later enough, but soon comes quickly. Back in the day these guys were superyoung and superfun, now they’re grown more mature, but without any of the stuff that makes maturity worthwhile, like legitimate insight or existential worry. This certainly isn’t a bad album – “Hands Reversed” (the slow one) is nice, “End of a Spark” is sad too, as mentioned “Favourite Food” (the first one) has a neat build-up. But there’s nothing great to hang one’s heads on anymore. I feel like a bad person for saying as much, being an unsolicited reviewer and all, but I hope it’s just a phase and these Tokyo Policemen either get back to being fun or get more out of their twenty-something-dom. Either that or they might literally be looking for jobs as policemen in Tokyo before long. Zing!

Oh, now I feel guilty again.

5/10 

Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell

Hey, America: Nothin’s finer than being in your vaginer!

Look, I loves me some TPC from time to time, but this album is half filler! Sure, I have no idea what they’re singing about most of the time and it’s not my business one way or another, but the sound is exactly the same, and it’s a good sound, but I’m simultaneously overdone of it and annoyed at the band from making a 28-minute long album. Horse apples!
As much as I want everything to be candy canes and fellatio, there’s no way we don’t all know that “In A Cave,” “Juno,” “Tesselate,” and “Your English Is Good” are the good songs here. I may be drunk, but while the rest are nice (especially “Nursery, Academy”) the rest don’t stand out and I’m not that crazy about “Juno” either. Plus, Tessy doesn’t really sound like them at all! It’s way more produced-y! I hope this wasn’t my one chance to make a big difference, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to go play Final Fantasy VI now even though I’m a 25 year old man. Maybe not, fuck, it’s not even 9:30. Come witness a man’s “battle” with alcoholism and read about some classy music while you do so!

Oh, and there’s also a disc of five remixes! Oh boy! Let me never listen to them again! Also, what the hell are all these songs about?

Get my drink on! And my smoke on! Invite over some comedians and get my joke on! No, YOU shouldn’t drink and write. Opinions!

6/10

Tokyo Police Club – Your English is Good

I don’t have much time to write this review, so let me just say:

Ha ha ha ha ha! Nippon man Li Ki Penn velllly honoured to be leviewing this lecord! Ha ha ha! Two songs, white man! “Your Engrish is Good” is vellly catchy, like eyes of emperor dragon! It on arbum, you no need here ha ha ha! “Swedes in Stockholm” velly sholt and arr acoustic! Kinda neat but nevel get “yen” to risten to. Ha ha, Nippon man make joke. Oh no don’t tell, white man! Bring gleat dishonour on my famree! Ha ha ha!

6/10

Tokyo Police Club – Smith

Hey it’s a three song EP and they’re all really good songs so that’s good. “Box” is a rocker with a good riff and a vaguely Dylany chorus about how bad and untrustworthy the singer is, “Cut Cut Paste” is from the demo and lets the vocal melody carry the song and it’s also upbeat and stuff and it’s a romantic song that pulls off a cheesy line through sheer force of youthful will. Plus it fixes the line from the demo about who’s blood it could be other than yours (from “his” to “yours”), if you keep track of that sort of thing, which nobody does. Plus the title is satisfyingly nerdly. The last song is a surprisingly quiet, piano-led song about being in a family of criminals. It’s nice to see the group take on a old-timey tall tale after the typical singer-songwriter fare of the first two songs / most of our generation! Oh, and it’s called “A Lesson In Crime,” which is the title of the EP it’s NOT on! Whee! You like it when reviews are all one paragraph?

Also, it’s less than eight minutes long, meaning they now have two releases totaling ten songs and twenty-four minutes but it’s okay because they’re all good! But if you want you can feel free to go to their next show and request “Sister Ray.” Which would be great. Ever have nights where you’re listening to Townes Van Zandt songs over and over and you want to get really drunk but you’re trying to respectful of your girlfriend who wants to come over later? I’d actually really like to meet more people who’d answer “yes” to that question. Sigh.

Also he has one hilariously racial song called “Talkin’ Karate Blues.” What’s the deal with THAT song, Mr. Funnycorpse?

9/10

Tokyo Police Club – A Lesson In Crime

It’s raining and I’m sleepy, but Gosh! What a great EP! Seven short songs (none crack the three minute mark) of crisp, upbeat indie music! Sure, “Nature of the Experiment” is the best thing here, but every song here is genuinely enjoyable.

Contently, it’s campy, never moreso then when it starts with the singer yelling from a mic made to sound far away “operator! Get me the president of the world!” But by that point the staccato cymbals are already in swing and then the song gets going and it’s filled with hooks and satisfying guitar fills. There’s some odd Asimov-ish thread tying a lot of the songs together, particularly “Citizens of Tomorrow” with its narrator being a worker in a factory controlled by robots, and “Shoulders and Arms”  and “If It Works” saying something about “The Republic” and rebellion against the factory, respectively, but it’s all so carefree and fun to listen to that even sci-fi dislikers should like it all. But there’s “Nature of the Experiment” and “Be Good” which have nothing to do with being sci-fi at all! The balaclavas go on!

And then it ends with “La Ferrassie” and you realize a bunch of 19 year olds have made the most parsimonious recording you’ve heard in years. Oh sure, every song has the same bassline (“If It Works” pretends it doesn’t for a while but then it does) and I’m not sure how to fit that in with the review, but with songs this short and hook-filled, caring about that would be like resenting a great country like Hungary just for massacring millions of Chinese.

Wait, that DIDN’T happen? What have I been reading all this time?

9/10

Tokyo Police Club – Demo

I want to start you people (Gilleen) with a little story that you’ve already heard (since you’re Gilleen). And it goes a little something like this: back when I was cool (2004), I somehow found this band through Livejournal and was directed to their Myspace where all they had were these four songs from their demo; they didn’t even have an EP at the time and I was pretty ahead of the game considering now they’re on MTV and party and bullshit. So I knew this band only a few thousand people knew and they were very good, and I went and saw them at the Drake in Toronto. This was also when the Drake was cool, you understand. If I belabour the point it is only because it is integral, not intentionally to brag. So I went to see them, and at their show they did a strange arts and crafts show where the audience was encouraged to build structures out of marshmallows and popsicle sticks on the stage. So I helped build the structures badly, since I’m terrible at A&C, and I asked the lead singer (I was right next to him) if they would play “Nature of the Experiment” (which wasn’t actually a single yet so I was in fact being prescient) and he said it was next and then at the end of the set since I was still on stage he gave me two beer tickets and said they wouldn’t use them and I went to the bar and gosh! They gave me TPC beers! And it was a great moment for twenty-year-old Myles, and I gained a lifelong affection for Tokyo Police Club,
That story done, there really isn’t much reason to know this four-song demo. All four songs have been done again in better quality. The songs are “Cheer It On!,” “Nature of the Experiment,” “Be Good,” and “Cut Cut Paste.” They’re Strokes-like in sounding urban and classic and angular and lo-fi, but unlike The Strokes, who were obviously a bunch of goddamned rich kids trying to sound poor, these guys are genuinely unclear-class, but the demo really does sound like shit. But you can really hear how good the songs are anyway! And the songs are great, though not that different from their album versions.
Oh, about the song a little more you Uncle Krackers, the songs are rather spacey, or maybe I’m projecting. The first aforementioned mentions the band name and is certainly sci-fi-ish, the second is about “the patterns of my temperament” and therefore I love it, the third features the line “be good when your parents stay over in June,” so how do you not love that, and the fourth has a nerdy lean but also features the ultra-romantic line “is this blood his or mine / cause when we kiss my stars align” and its aww yeah blow me. All four songs are fast paced and quick and catchy and satisfyingly keyboardy and handclappy and great, so what excuse do you have for not having this, besides every song being available in better quality elsewhere? As for me, I just really like having more yelling in the background of “Be Good” and “Cut Cut Paste” sounding lethargic and “Nature of the Experiment” sounding too far away. Great demo; I can’t believe these guys didn’t take over the world. Sigh.

Finally, by reviewing this demo I must come to terms with it and my non-ultimate irrelevance and delete it and bid farewell. Goodbye, Tokyo Police Club demo! I’ll remember you in bangs and beer tickets! Goodbye!

8/10